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Kathryn "Katie" Wristen
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Obituary for Kathryn "Katie" Wristen

Kathryn “Katie” Wristen

“The only way to have a friend is to be one.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
If Emerson were alive today, Katie Wristen would have been his inspiration. Katie didn’t just like her friends, she loved each and every one of them, and they reciprocated in kind. If friendships were money, Katie would have been a billionaire.
Born August 11, 1918, in St. Joseph, Mo., to Fred and Desdemona Wickham, he a fireman on the railroad and later a firefighter, and she a homemaker, Katie attended local grade schools and Benton High School where she met and fell in love with Walter Wristen. In their senior year he became class president and she the class secretary. Becoming a secretary would become Katie’s life work and vocation. At her father’s request, Katie waited until she was 21 years old and then married Walt. Three years later their only child, David, was born.
Katie was not a stay-at-home mom but worked as a secretary beginning out of high school with Swift & Co. in the St. Joseph stockyards and ending as secretary to the President of Cook Paint & Varnish Co. in North Kansas City when its shares traded on the American Stock Exchange. In that position, Katie came in contact with nearly every prominent businessman in Kansas City in the late 50’s and early 60’s. Often, she said that without exception they were men of dignity, honor and respect. High praise, indeed.
In 1966, Katie became secretary to a new business formed by Walt and her brother, Lawrence. That business, Wickham-Wristen, was in wholesale notions and took Katie and Walt back to St. Joseph where the business was located. Health issues prompted Walt’s early retirement in 1979 and their subsequent move to the warm weather of Sun City West, Ariz. Following Walt’s death in 1984, Katie’s days as full-time caregiver were replaced by a full slate of activities. She played tennis multiple times per week, bowled, knitted and sewed clothes for herself and others, gave her time to the church, and hosted regular bridge and dinner parties for friends who filled her days with joy.
A master of perseverance, when arthritis forced her to stop playing tennis at age 80 she took up billiards and continued to bowl. Later, she developed a passion for making greeting cards, a talent she brought with her to Kansas at age 90 when she moved to be close to her son, David, and his family. Those remaining nine-plus years were spent living independently at Brookdale Leawood for six years and then Brookdale Overland Park in assisted living. She continued making cards well into her late 90s. She crafted cards for special occasions and holidays, and even handled special requests. She sold her cards for $1 apiece while living at Brookdale Leawood, intending only to break even. She took satisfaction in making the cards, and she considered their true value to be the joy she saw from those who bought them.
Katie was immensely happy at both Brookdale locations where she continued to make friends and receive loving care until passing on April 5, 2018.
Katie was preceded in death by her brothers, Cleve and Lawrence Wickham. She is survived by her son, David (Rita), grandchildren Elizabeth Wakeman (Craig) and Christopher, and great-grandchildren Luke, Emerson and Georgia Wakeman. Also surviving are nephew, Terry Wickham (Barb), and niece, Pam Hamilton.
The family is most grateful to the staff at both Brookdale facilities for their love and kindness over those many years and especially to her caregiver, Catherine, gentle Catherine, who showered her with tender affection to the very last moment. The family also wishes to thank Silver Link Ministries for their eldercare outreach ministry. Katie always looked forward to their visits.
Private Graveside Services & Inurnment, Memorial Park Cemetery. The family will gather with friends 10:00 A.M. Friday, April 13, Brookdale Overland Park for a memorial service. If friends wish to make a contribution in her honor they might consider the Salvation Army or Silver Link Ministries at Church of the Resurrection, but do not feel obliged to do so. They have honored her amply during her lifetime.

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Previous Events

Memorial Service




10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Brookdale Overland Park

12000 Lamar Avenue
Overland Park, Kansas 66209

Cemetery Details


Memorial Park Cemetery

5005 Frederick Ave
St. Joseph , Missouri 64506

Memorial Contribution

Salvation Army

602 Messanie St
St. Joseph, Missouri 64501

Silver Link Ministries at Church of the Resurrection


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